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DK Barrels (sometimes called Buddy Barrels or Kong Barrels) are a type of Barrel that can be found in just about every level of the Donkey Kong Country and Donkey Kong Land series. If a Kong is traveling with his or her partner and is hit by an enemy or an obstacle, the ape will run away and the partner will become playable. If a Kong is hit when traveling alone, the heroes will lose an extra life. Fortunately, the lone Kong can break open a DK Barrel to reunite with their lost partner. Presumably, the Kongs that run away are captured and stuffed into these barrels by the Kremling Krew (as Diddy Kong was explicitly sealed in a DK Barrel in the game Donkey Kong Country). The DK Barrel can be identified by the red and yellow letters "DK" painted on its side. This is the symbol of Donkey Kong and the Kong Family.
If a DK Barrel is on the ground, the barrel can be picked up and thrown like a normal Barrel (although it will break upon impact with the ground, instead of rolling across it). As such, a DK Barrel on the ground can be used as a weapon to destroy enemies. However, if the barrel is located in mid-air, the DK Barrel will simply break when touched by a lone Kong, releasing the lost partner. From Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest and on, if both partners are in play, the DK Barrel cannot be broken – it simply stays in mid-air until needed. Most DK Barrels in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest and Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! are found in mid-air, and cannot be used as weapons; in Donkey Kong Land 2 and Donkey Kong Land III, all DK Barrels are found in mid-air. DK Barrels that are found in Treasure Chests can be picked up like normal Barrels – these appear in Donkey Kong Country 2. Additionally, there is a cheat in Donkey Kong Country 2 and Donkey Kong Country 3 that causes all DK Barrels and Star Barrels to deactivate. When the DK Barrels are disabled, a level is started automatically with two Kongs.
DK Barrels return in Donkey Kong Country Returns where they have the same functions as before. In this game, they are always found on the ground and can be thrown. If Diddy is present when a DK Barrel is tossed, the barrel instead restores Donkey Kong's health if it is not full.
In Mario Kart 7, DK Barrels appear on the jungle section of DK Jungle, where they are located on the sides of the track. They contain Bananas that are revealed by destroying the barrels with Green Shells, or by colliding with them at a high speed.
DK Barrels return in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, functioning just like they did in Donkey Kong Country Returns. With the addition of Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong, the barrels come in four new variations — a Diddy Kong Barrel marked with a blue "DD" instead of the usual red "DK", a Dixie Kong Barrel marked with a pink "DX" (this one containing Dixie Kong), a Cranky Kong Barrel with a yellow "CK", and another one which contains all three spinning in a roulette-like manner. With the latter barrel, Donkey Kong is able to choose his partner, by picking it up at the moment the wanted character's insignia appears (or by swimming into it, if it is underwater).
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